Lyman Trumbull

Lyman Trumbull (1813-1896)

Born in Colchester, Connecticut and was schooled there, then traveled to Georgia to teach school. He studied law, was admitted to the Georgia bar, and later moved to Chicago, Illinois.

Trumbull’s reputation as a lawyer grew and he soon had a thriving practice in Chicago. He was soon elected to the State Legislature and became Illinois’ Secretary of State in the early 1840’s. Trumbull defended blacks in court for free – and his argument during a Supreme Court case cleared the way for Blacks to become free once in Illinois as per the Ordinance of 1787.

In 1848 Trumbull was chosen Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois and remained in that position for 5 years. Then in 1851 Trumbull was elected a US Congressman from the first congressional district of Illinois. But before he took office, he was elected by the legislature to the US Senate – defeating Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had been the early leader but could not gather enough votes, so he gave over his votes to Trumbull so that the Republican Party would triumph.

Mrs. Lincoln and Julia Jane Trumbull were friends, and Julia was one who helped get Mr. Lincoln and Miss Todd back together after their wedding was called off. Julia was one of Mary’s bridesmaids at her wedding. Upon Lincoln’s loss in the Senate election, Mrs. Lincoln was irate that Trumbull had taken the Senate election away from her husband. Mary had little to do with either Trumbull thereafter, especially once all were in Washington.

Lincoln and Trumbull would work tirelessly for the Republican cause over the years – and many letters of correspondence exist. Senator Trumbull was supportive of Lincoln during the 1858 Senate campaign between Lincoln and Douglas. Trumbull was of immense help to Lincoln during the 1860 campaign for president. It was Trumbull who led Lincoln into the Senate chamber upon the tragic death of Edward Baker – and Trumbull accompanied Lincoln to Oak Hill cemetery at Georgetown where son Willie was temporarily buried. Trumbull was heavily involved in preparing an amendment abolishing slavery – and readily received the support of President Lincoln. Trumbull notified Lincoln of his electoral count victory on March 1, 1865.

Trumbull is a part of the Illinois delegation to the Lincoln funeral. He delivers an hour long tribute at the Second Presbyterian Church in Springfield Illinois on April 19, 1865. He would then act as a pall bearer during the funeral services in Chicago. Trumbull under heavy pressure to the contrary, voted to acquit President Johnson during the impeachment trial. This act concluded his effectiveness in the Senate. Trumbull resumed the practice of law in Chicago, Illinois, and was an unsuccessful candidate for governor of the state in 1880. Trumbull died in Chicago on June 25, 1896 and is buried in Oakwoods Cemetery.

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